It’s important that guinea pigs have a well-balanced and nutritious diet in order to stay happy and healthy! The average guinea pig needs hay, water, fruits and vegetables, and pellets to get the nutrients they need daily. If you’re looking for more information on what kinds of vegetables and what kinds of fruits that guinea pigs can eat, you can check out our Vegetable Master List and our Fruits Master List.
Both of these blog posts have charts that quickly tell you the vitamins and nutrients in fruits and vegetables for guinea pigs, as well as serving size and serving frequency. All of this information can be read at a glance, and if you want to read more in-depth posts on each fruit or vegetable, there are links to those as well. We also have a blog post on hydration and how much water your guinea pig needs here.
With all this food that you need to provide for your guinea pig, you may be wondering how to decide how much hay to feed them.
How much hay does a guinea pig need?
According to the Humane Society, guinea pigs need an unlimited quantity of fresh hay every day, and we agree with this. In general, guinea pigs need to be able to have constant access to their hay to match with the constant growth of their teeth that they need to manage. Yes, guinea pigs teeth are constantly growing! In order to wear down their teeth in a healthy way, and in order for the hay to help them with their overall digestion, they need to be able to eat constantly.
Hay helps guinea pigs with digestion because the fibers help them form a kind of poop called caecotrophs, which are pellets of nutrients that they will eat right after excreting it. Guinea pigs aren’t able to absorb all the nutrients in their food at once, so the food will be eaten and go through their digestive system once, and then they’ll consume the caecotrophs, for the second round of nutrients. For more information on this process and why they do it, you can read this blog post.
Hay for guinea pigs is a great way for them to maintain their teeth too. If guinea pig teeth get too long, it can lead to impaction, which can be painful for them. Discomfort and pain in the mouth is never good for guinea pigs because it will also make it uncomfortable for them to eat, which will cause them to not receive the nutrition they need in order to stay healthy. As you can imagine, not being able to eat can lead to unhealthy weight loss and malnutrition.
When guinea pigs have constant access to hay, adult guinea pigs can eat anywhere from 6-8 pounds of hay per month, and young guinea pigs can go through 5-6 pounds of hay per month.
How should you feed guinea pigs hay?
Different guinea pig parents go about feeding guinea pigs hay in different ways! The important thing is feeding hay to them in a way that is easy for them to access, and in a way that is safe.
Some guinea pig parents opt for leaving hay in large piles around their cage for them to access in whatever corner they happen to decide they want to hide in at any given time. Providing hay in multiple spots is beneficial because it ensures that they won’t run out as quickly! Guinea pigs love to run around and explore their cages and enclosures, so observing this and seeing which spots are their favorites is a good way to determine which areas are the best for leaving the hay.
The problem with leaving hay in piles is that they can get pretty messy. Your guinea pigs are running around, maybe even through the hay piles themselves, and scattering the hay all around their cage and creating dust that can be bothersome, and in some cases, even dangerous.
This can be especially problematic if you are a piggy parent that is allergic to hay. Hay dust can also fly around when you’re removing the hay from the bags that it comes in, which makes a mess of not only your guinea pig’s cage, but your own home in general!
Hay dust is one of the most common irritants to your guinea pig’s respiratory system, which makes them vulnerable to respiratory infections. These infections can quickly become fatal, so it’s important to monitor the amount of dust present in your guinea pig’s cage and vacuum and clean it up as soon as you notice it in order to keep your guinea pig safe. For more information on upper respiratory infections, check out this blog post here.
Guinea pig hay racks can be pretty helpful in reducing the amount of mess that comes from leaving hay in piles, but the downside, like with the hay piles, is that you’re still having to refill them whenever you notice that they’re getting low. Of course refilling their hay is something that you are responsible for, but you’re human, and sometimes it can slip your mind.
Mess that comes from hay dust, unfortunately, isn’t completely eradicated either. Just like with hay piles, it’s best to stay on top of the cage spot cleaning so you can vacuum up any dust and particles that will irritate your guinea pig’s nose!
The great thing about our Hay Bars and Hay Boxes is that they both can serve as an alternative to traditional hay racks. Both versions of our hay packaging can be clipped to the side of your piggies’ cages! The hay stays in the box or bar, and all you have to do is pop open the perforated sections to create openings for your guinea pig.
Our GuineaDad Hay is micro-filtered, which means we ensure that the hay is free of things like fine dust, tree branches, bird feathers, and other impurities. Because the hay is tightly packed. It reduces the amount of hay dust that is created—we’ve packed as much hay as we can in there to ensure this and to ensure that it stays as fresh and lasts for as long as possible.
When you clip the Hay Bars and Hay Boxes in multiple areas of your guinea pig’s cage, you don’t have to worry about refilling it at all, you just have to replace them when your piggies are done.
Our GuineaDad Hay Bars and GuineaDad Hay Boxes are also super good for stimulating your guinea pig’s brain and helps them slow down their eating a little bit. The benefit of this is that they work for their food a little bit and stay healthy and active!
Another plus? Our GuineaDad Hay Bar and GuineaDad Hay Box packaging is edible and can help with maintaining your guinea pig’s teeth as well. Our piggies Ru and Mi sometimes like to climb into the Hay Boxes and Hay Bars when the hay is lower and use them as hideys as well!
Both our GuineaDad Hay Box and the GuineaDad Hay Bars can come in Timothy or Orchard Hay. If you’re interested in learning more about different types of hay, you can read this post here.
Hay is one of the biggest portions of the guinea pig diet!
In fact, it makes up almost 80% of their diet. It's important that we take care to feed our guinea pigs hay in the way that is healthiest and safest for them! In the end, all the efforts we put in to give them proper nutrition is the best way to extend their lifespans and to keep them healthy.